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COMIC: Teaching Preschoolers While Masked Up During The Pandemic

"... and since we have to wear masks, that's just not happening for them."

It's been a year since teachers were handed an unprecedented request: educate students in entirely new ways amid the backdrop of a pandemic. In this comic series, we'll illustrate one teacher's story each week from now until the end of the school year.

Maria Lemire, a preschool teacher in the East Village, New York City, on the challenges of early childhood education during the pandemic.

Episode 3

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

"It's been really difficult. There's been so much loss. My grandmother passed away a week into lockdown and I couldn't go see her. We all carry this weight."
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"I'm still concerned about my safety, but I am really worried about having to wear a mask at school every day."
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"See, I teach 2- and 3-year-olds, so oral language development is critical. Not only hearing the words, but seeing the words being made by the mouth ..."
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"It's up to us as teachers to really e-nun-ci-ate and talk about what's going on under our mask. To show with our hands what our mouth is doing during a certain vowel or letter."
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"And a huge part of this developmental stage is social-emotional learning — being able to read faces, express emotions and pay attention to other faces."
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"We started using a mood meter so kids can look at their face in the mirror. They can think about which feeling resonates with them the most right now."
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"Social distancing doesn't really happen at this age. They naturally want to share. We talk about our bodies sharing space."
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They all get their own supplies, but some things are more communal — like books. We're trying not to say, "No sharing," but trying to let them know the spaces where they can.
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"My students are resilient and they have adapted. When the days are tough, my students inspire me to keep showing up."
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